20,000 indigenous Ecuadorians to join fuel hike protests

People face off soldiers as they block a road during protests after Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno’s government ended four-decade-old fuel subsidies in Lasso Ecuador

People face off soldiers as they block a road during protests after Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno’s government ended four-decade-old fuel subsidies in Lasso Ecuador

Protesters braved police tear gas and some briefly broke into the empty congress building, while elsewhere roads were blocked and transport came to a halt.

Indigenous protesters occupied two water treatment plants in the city of Ambato, south of the capital, raising concern about supply to residents, according to municipal authorities.

The number of arrests had risen to 570, he said.

Government open to foreign mediation Ecuador's government said on Tuesday it would be open to mediation via the United Nations or the Catholic Church, after nearly a week of anti-austerity protests that have rocked the nation and brought hundreds of arrests.

How did the protests start?

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Mr Moreno has declared a two-month national emergency over the unrest.

The austerity measure would lead to a sharp increase of gas prices, specifically from US$2.30 per gallon (CAD$0.79 per litre) from US$1.85 (CAD$0.64 per litre) for gasoline and US$2.27 per gallon (CAD$0.79 per litre) from $1.03 ($0.35) for diesel.

Moreno accused political opponents of orchestrating an attempted coup and blamed associates of Correa of infiltrating the protests as part of a plot to topple his government, without providing evidence.

The IMF agreement, signed in March, allowed Ecuador to borrow $4.2 billion.

Moreno's declaration of a state of emergency failed to deter the advance of indigenous protesters who have repeatedly clashed with security forces on their journey to the capital from the far reaches of the country.

Thousands of indigenous people, some carrying long sticks, converged on Ecuador's capital Tuesday as anti-government protests and clashes led the president to move his besieged administration out of Quito.

But despite the halting of the strike, another faction would emerge.

"More than 20,000 indigenous people will be arriving in Quito", said Jaime Vargas, leader of the umbrella indigenous organisation CONAIE.

They were using "indigenous groups, taking advantage of their mobilization to plunder and destroy", he charged.

What is the president doing?

Moreno blames Rafael Correa (his predecessor) and President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela.

Correa's office rejected the allegations in a statement, while Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, Maduro's USA -backed rival, threw his support behind Moreno, accusing Maduro for being responsible for the unrest. Moreno has received "firm backing" for his handling of the unrest from seven Latin American countries, including Brazil, Argentina and Peru, according to Peru's foreign ministry.

With protesters swarming around Quito, various government buildings were attacked overnight, authorities said, adding to looting, assaults on farms, and the destruction of ambulances and police vehicles in recent days.

Seeking help in the form of foreign intervention, Ecuador also reached out to the United Nations and the Catholic Church.

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